How to Become a Business Professional in Hawaii

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What Business Major are You Interested In?


An organization that offers good and services for sale to either individuals or other organizations is a business. The people who work for the business, especially those in management or supervisory positions are referred to as business professionals, however anyone who works for an organization could also be called business professionals or businesspeople. The term business professional is vague because the kind of professional you are depends on where you are in the organization.

Anyone who was a job working for either a business or themselves are technically business professionals. The kind of professional can vary depending on the business and the industry. Business professionals also have more or less clout depending on where they fall in the hierarchy in a company. For example, a CEO of a department store has more power than say an assistant manager, but both have more power than a retail associate. Basically, a business professional is a person that possesses knowledge and skill in the area in which they work. The level of professional, and the power the title holds increases as a person’s responsibilities in an organization increases. And much of that progression is tied to educational level and experience in a field.


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Business Education in Hawaii


In the state of Hawaii, the biggest industries are real estate, arts and entertainment, and general business and finance. In those areas, real estate agents, performers, and bank managers would be examples of business professionals, respectively. This makes sense on paper, but each career has its own training and experience level to reach. So, we are going to focus on those who have reached the management level of the organization when speaking about business professionals since, to reach this level, more than base education and knowledge must be attained.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 29,000 business managers working in Hawaii and they earn an average of $73,000 annually. And, because this is a vague category that involves every industry, job demand for managers is expected to increase faster than average between now and 2029. So, if you work in an industry and are considering furthering your education so you can advance in your career, this is a good time to do it. The opportunities are wide open, including those in Hawaii’s most popular industries so keep reading if you want to know the level of education you might need to pursue your dreams.

Like most careers, there are several education levels for business professionals. They range from programs that will supply a base education, up to and including degrees that will set a person up as an expert. The more education a person receives, the more opportunities for advancement will present themselves. Below are the most common levels of education a business professional can receive and some of the courses these programs will cover.

Associate Degree in Business (AS)

A person with an associate degree in business can attain an entry level or higher position depending on the company and the industry. Upon completion of the two-year degree, a person will have at least a base understanding of business principles and know the general idea about working in a business environment. Students can expect to take at least some of the following classes:

  • Accounting I & II
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Law
  • Computerized Accounting
  • Intro to Management
  • Intro to Marketing
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Payroll Accounting

Associate degrees generally take two years or eight semesters to complete, but some students finish in less time, while others might need more.

Bachelor's Degree in Business (BS)

Most people who get a four-year degree in business administration have a specialization.

These are additional courses taken on top of the general business administration core curriculum, which includes classes in:

  • Economics
  • Business Ethics & Law
  • Statistics
  • Accounting and Accounting Information Systems
  • Management and Organization
  • Business Communication
  • Entrepreneurship

However, someone who wants to go into one of Hawaii’s biggest industries, such as real estate management, might add the following courses to their curriculum to make them more attractive to prospective employers:

  • Managerial Accounting
  • Public Relations
  • Real Estate Contracts
  • Real Estate Management
  • Real Estate Marketing
  • Selling Real Estate

Bachelor’s degrees take three to seven years to complete, with four years being the expected time frame for most students. With a four-degree, graduates can apply for a variety of positions depending on their specialization. But the degree is enough to get an entry level or even lower-level supervisory position in most companies.

Master's Degree in Business (MS or MC)

Although a bachelor’s degree is enough for you to get your foot in the door of a business, and even perhaps attain a lower-level management or supervisory position, for those who want to enter senior management positions, a Master’s in Business Administration, aka an MBA, may be required. Companies tend to prefer managers with additional education in higher positions. MBA programs build on what was taught at the undergraduate level but add additional critical thinking and analytical courses into the mix. To complete the program, either a capstone or comprehensive exam is required.

A graduate student will study the courses listed above but will also have at least some of the following courses:

  • Advanced Business Communication
  • Business Analytics
  • Business Statistics
  • Financial Projections
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Quantitative Business Analysis

With an MBA and several years of work experience, a person could be tapped for middle-management positions, and in some cases, upper-level management positions, depending on the company and industry.

PhD Degree in Business (PhD)

A doctorate in business administration (DBA) is an option, but people who get a doctorate in business are usually thinking about pursuing tenured professor positions for a college or university. This degree may also be helpful in business settings for those seeking to become subject matter experts, but it is geared more toward academia.

Those who pursue this degree will study the following areas:

  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Human Development
  • Information Systems
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Operational Management

At the end of the program, a student will have to defend a dissertation, a document that the student has been preparing throughout their studies. After successfully defending the dissertation to a board, the student will be awarded a PhD and will be qualified to add “Dr.” as a prefix to their name or “PhD” after their name.

Become a Business Development Specialist in Hawaii


If you are working and getting paid for what you do, then you are a business professional by default. However, you level of experience and education can harm or help your career. For example, a person with a degree but no experience could be at a disadvantage compared to a person with no or little formal education, but a lot of work experience and a good track record in the industry. The ultimate goal is to attain both. For those who want to rise in the ranks of a chosen career, classes in your area of interest are a good place to start. If you narrowed down your career focus and take a few different kinds of business classes, such as an accounting or business management, you can improve your standing in your company or industry and improve your chances of gaining a promotion or new position. You can take these classes at a local community college for a few hundred dollars.

Once you’ve narrowed your focus to a specific area of study, focus your studies on that area. Many schools that offer business administration as a major allow you to pick a specific area in business as a specialization. For example, if marketing is of interest to you, you could major in business administration with a specialization in marketing. This means you’ll get the general business education, but you’ll also take marketing courses that will prepare you for a career in marketing. These degrees may only be available at the bachelor’s degree level and higher, though some colleges offer marketing and other specific degrees at the associate level.

If you know you want to pursue upper management position in your chosen field, the getting an MBA or other graduate degree in your field is worth considering at this point. You can wait until you have more experience in your field and then pursue an advanced degree, or you can get the degree while you gain the needed experience to move into a management position. The choice is yours.

Of course, another approach entirely is to start your own business. If you have experience in a specific and the drive and passion to work for yourself, this could be the best path for you. But customers like to be ensured that the business they are dealing with is knowledgeable, so attaining some level of formal education is still a good idea.

Careers for Business Graduates


There are countless options for those who want to become business professionals. Below are some of the careers that would best suit the popular industries in Hawaii. This is far from an exhaustive list but will give you a general idea of areas that are trending and lucrative.

  • Business Development Director
    A business development director is in charge of growing business by finding new avenues for the business’ products and services. Development managers work closely with other businesses in the community to find ways to offer their products and services. Sometimes these agreements are monetary in nature, meaning the other company pays for the products, other times the product or service is offered as a service to the community, in the hopes that profits will be gained from the gesture at a later date. Development managers have excellent negotiation skills and are great communicators. In some organizations they are considered the spokesperson, so excellent communication and writing skills are important.
  • Team Leader
    Depending on the organization, a team leader can be a low-level manager or a middle manager. Regardless of where they are in the managerial chain, team leaders are in charge of other employees that are tasked with offering a product or service. Examples of team leaders is a shift manager for a restaurant, a supervisor with a sales team, or customer service representative supervisor. The team lead is responsible for ensuring their team meets their goals, and they offer guidance when are where needed. Some team leads are also part of the team but, in most cases, once a person becomes a team lead, they have more managerial responsibilities and therefore spend less time doing the job their team does. But most team leads were once members of a similar team.
  • Project Manager
    Project managers oversee a project for a company. This manager must be experienced with the project topic and is tasked with training others on the team who may lack the experience with the particular project. The tasks required can vary depending on the scope of the project, and the manager is responsible for keeping the project on track and ensuring that it is planned and implemented at the highest level possible. One project could have several teams involved and the project manager is tasked with keeping all the teams on track.
  • Entrepreneur
    Some people are big idea people. They have a knack for recognizing needs in an area and creating solutions. They really aren’t interested in a regular job where they do the same thing every day; they prefer to come in, fix a problem, and move on to the next issue. These people are entrepreneurs and are very valuable to businesses. They aren’t always good employees, but they are excellent idea people and motivators. They can create teams that can create solutions to problems, and they will stick around long enough to make sure things are running smoothly, but they seldom take long-term management positions with a company other than their own. And even then, they tend to hire other people to run it so they can focus on what they do best.

Other careers that fall under the business professional umbrella include:

  • Account Manager
  • IT Director
  • Marketing Manager
  • Office Manager
  • Data Analyst
  • Financial/Business Analyst
  • HR Specialist/Manager
  • Supply Chain Specialist/Manager
  • Public Relations Specialist/Manager
  • Content Marketing Specialist/Manager
  • Administrative Assistant
  • CEO and other C-suite positions
  • VP Operations
  • Operations Manager

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